Transcript of second interview with Senator Joe Neal by Claytee D. White, February 7, 2006


Digital ID
Transcript of second interview with Senator Joe Neal by Claytee D. White, February 7, 2006
Material Set
White, Claytee D.;
Second interview in a series of five with Nevada State Senator Joe Neal conducted by Claytee D. White on February 7, 2006. Born in Mounds, Louisiana, in 1935, Neal joined his family in Las Vegas as a young man shortly before serving in the United States Air Force from 1954 to 1958. Following his military service, he earned a bachelor's degree in political science at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Neal continued his education at the Institute of Applied Science in Chicago, Illinois, with postgraduate work in law. From 1973 to 2001, he served in the Nevada Legislature as the Senator from Clark County Senatorial District No. 4. In the second interview, Neal focuses on his work during the 1960s and 1970s.
Senator Joe Neal shares many memories of his childhood in Mound, Louisiana. He recalls his mother leaving him and his older brother Willie with a woman named Bea so that she could go to Alexander to get a job. He and Willie were ages 2 and 4, respectively, and were frequently left on their own. Willie would leave periodically for hours at a time and come back with food. He eventually took Joe to meet the couple who were supplying the meals, Mary and Gowens Prayder. This couple took the two boys in and over time, the boys began to call them Momma and Daddy. School for the black children of the plantation was held in Shady Grove Missionary Baptist Church. Joe attended classes there through fourth grade, and then was bussed to Thomas Town High and Elementary School. He gives many details of the experiences he had and the teachers who taught him. He also recalls signs and symptoms of the racial prejudice blacks encountered down South in the thirties and forties. Joe's birth mother came out to Las Vegas and was followed by her oldest son in 1951 or '52. He returned to Louisiana in 1954 to bring Joe out West. Senator Neal recalls the stark dustiness of the landscape and the rental home he shared with his mother and other boarders on D Street. He tried his hand at several menial jobs and then took his brother's suggestion to join the Armed Forces in order to get a college education. Senator Neal relates the many opportunities that he experienced in the military, including working as an AP, undergoing desert survival training, and working at Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico. After 4 years in the Air Force, Joe enrolled at Southern University in January of 1959. He had decided that he wanted to work for blacks in government after learning about Rosa Parks, the bus boycott, and the Little Rock situation. Joe shares his opinions on government principles, views on Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath, details his running for a seat in the Nevada legislature and serving 32 years there as a state senator. He is proud of having authored and sponsored the state fire law, has strong views on whether to increase the grade point average for University students, and expresses his intention to see that government works for the people.
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CT247.N42 2007
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Original Date (interview)
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This material may be protected by copyright. Personal, including educational and academic, use of this material is without restriction; but acknowledgement of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, University Libraries is requested whether the use is oral, web or in print. Commercial use of any portion of this material requires permission. For further information please contact Digital Collections: This document is an oral history. It is a spoken account of certain events and phenomena recorded at one particular moment and filtered through one individual's life experience, sensibility, and memory. As such, it should be considered a primary source rather than a final, verified, or complete narrative of the events it records.
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University of Nevada Las Vegas
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2211 x 3099 pixels; 7.4 x 10.3 inches; 21,974,793 bytes; 43 images
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24 bit color; 300 ppi

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